A detailed summary of the social media conversation during the outdoor industry winter trade show
At the 2010 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market boosters of specialty products and services had a unique opportunity to participate in a conversation about the show, brands and events. Broadcast over the #ORWinter Twitter feed hosted and monitored by Channel Signal, even outdoor professionals who couldn’t attend the event were able to login and share the flow of information
“From my perspective, it was great to be able to participate with OR, without being there,” said William Roth (@williamroth), social network coordinator of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming. “I liked seeing twitpics with new/conceptual products. I was able to learn about #guerillapanel and build my outdoor industry base of twitter users. It also made me realize just how much I need to be attending OR in the summer.”
By simply including #ORWinter in their entries of 140 characters or less Twitter users shared photographs, videos and abbreviated links to blog web sites. Anyone on the planet with Internet access could see and follow the comment stream in real-time throughout the four-day event, including the on-snow demo. And on the show floor, exhibitors and key industry influencers were able to use the power of social media to generate excitement and drive traffic to their booths.
Those brands that hosted exciting industry events generated the most traffic. Teva’s live music party on the 2nd night of the show raised the conversation quotient among Tweeters with large followings, posting 29,250 social media impressions at the show. For each Tweeter who shared information about Teva, an equal number of their total followers got the word. Keen Footwear also had an impressive showing with 24,241 impressions during the show. In-booth promotions to benefit Haitian earthquake relief as well as several videos posted to YouTube were likely contributors to Keen’s success. The brand encouraged its fans to become engaged throughout OR and for a few days afterward
“We wanted to keep it simple and authentic so that people could have real-time interaction with our brand, “said Keen spokesman Chris Enlow. “ We wanted to come up with creative ways to reach our fans and not just the people at the show. If we just focused on ‘Orwinter’, the hash tag, we would have missed out on an opportunity to build our community.”
But it wasn’t just the big brands that did well in the social media rankings. The company Naturally Bamboo was ranked 4th with 18,754 impressions. Owner and exhibitor April Femrite aggressively used the #ORWinter channel to talk up her business and she enlisted the help of others. For example this message was posted by leading outdoor industry social media influencer Sara Lingafelter AKA @theclimbergirl: “Wardrobe change thanks to @naturallybamboo. This dress is so incredibly comfy, I feel like I’m running around naked. #orwinter”
Original messages like this one about @naturallybamboo were shared repeatedly across the Internet. It’s likely that a conversation about a naked @theclimbergirl was passed around peer to peer with more than a few chuckles. And with each re-tweet was also sent and received a message about the comfort of a dress made by Naturally Bamboo.
“I hope this proves to be a social media success story,” said Femrite. “I don’t have a huge marketing budget. All I have is social media, Facebook and Twitter, to build buzz and bring my brand to the attention of my customers.”
Two of the most talked about exhibitors weren’t brands but non-profit organizations, 1% For The Planet and The Conservation Alliance. With the help of key influencers who support these groups the issues of wildlife conservation and environmental conservation became top-of-mind.
“Social media makes the connection between brands, causes and adventurers clearer than ever before,” said Emily Nuchols, an industry influencer and a principle at Under Solen Media. “It’s not about who gets the most action on Twitter, it’s about who uses their social media to take action on things that matter. We believe in the power of social media to make positive change, and we believe in people who are passionate about their causes — be they businesses, advocates or adventurers.”
Nuchols posted information about the groups bi-annual breakfast meeting and spread the word on several promotional fundraising events held on the Conservation Alliance’s behalf at the booths of many different exhibitors.
On the other side of the issue, Malcolm Daly, founder of the climbing equipment company Trango has been attending OR since the 70’s and is a self-described skeptic. “I have high hopes but low expectations for the #ORWinter channel,” he said in a blog post a week before the show. “It’s already inundated with 140 character versions of the 40 year old press release, posted (tweeted) up by people and companies who don’t get it. Why would I bother to take notice of those if I never even bothered to take notice of them before?”
To Daly’s point if users of social media employ traditional techniques of one-way communications to connect with their audience very little of the conversation will change. But those brands and individuals who actively engage in a dialog, sharing and responding to pertinent and compelling information, can indeed use networks like the #ORWinter feed to their benefit.
Many will likely ask: “Was the #ORWinter experiment a success?” That’s like asking if a conversation at a cocktail party was successful. The more pertinent questions are: Was the discussion lively and informative? Did you discover anything new? Did you come away with the knowledge that you were not only heard but also listened to? Would you engage in this kind of conversation in the future?
Social media neither succeeds nor fails, it simply is. In the free exchange of ideas one will only get out of a conversation as much as he or she is prepared to put into it. Those who created meaningful content, those who responded directly to the questions or comments of others and those who shared what they discovered with the conversation at large will inevitably be the most successful users of social media.
Below are the top tens in both Brands and Influencers.
Note: Possible impressions= the number of mentions of that brand by unique users (X) their followers. This number excludes retweets, ( people who were passing a tweet along).
Top Ten Brands Impressions
@TevaMeansNature (Teva) 29,250
@keen_shoes ( Keen Footwear) 25,241
@conservationall (The Conservation Alliance) 21, 252
@naturallybamboo (Naturally Bamboo) 18,754
@DfaDogs (D-fa Dogs) 9,981
@hardwear (Mountain Hardwear) 9,633
@1PercentFTP (1% For The Planet) 7,276
@haikubags (Haiku) 6,780
@montrail (Montrail) 4,917
@chacousa (Chaco) 4,045
Total generated by the Top Ten 118,375
Top Ten Influencers Mentions Followers
@theclimbergirl 15 3,370
@PembaServes 12 1,123
@Eliz_Castro 11 1,662
@undersolen 10 461
@wude72 10 11,181
@saralingafelter 9 549
@canoelover 9 461
@RepGirl 8 215
@TheGearJunkie 7 3,191
@highsteph 7 1,758
Total number of Followers 23,971
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